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Maybe they should start D-I ice hockey ;) SHU is building a $70M ice hockey arena.


Sacred Heart unveiled plans for its arena during the weekend of the inaugural Connecticut Ice tournament, which featured all four state programs at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena in January 2020. The Pioneers won tournament, defeating Quinnipiac before a raucus crowd of about 6,000.

The energy that weekend in Bridgeport, Marottolo said, was a reminder of what it would feel like to skate in an on-campus facility packed with students. Winning the tournament just as the school’s $70 million plan was announced validated the decision.

“It was a really good statement weekend for our program, for our university,” Marottolo said.

Among those who heard the statement? Donors, corporate sponsors, alumni.

Fundraising for the facility is ongoing, but school officials are optimistic by donations — even during the economic minefield cause of the pandemic. The pandemic delayed construction and the overall cost rose slightly (the first projection was $60 million), so aggressive fundraising has continued over the past 15 months.

Jim Barquinero, Sacred Heart’s senior vice president for enrollment and athletics, said the school’s message to potential donors has been consistent. An on-campus arena will raise the profile of the hockey program, help boost the school’s presence on a national stage, and create energy among students and the community.

There was a $5 million gift from Frank and Marisa Martire, who have previously donated financial support to a chapel on campus and to the Liberal Arts Center that features their name. In fact, the arena will be named for the Martire family . Frank, a 1969 Sacred Heart graduate, is the school’s chairman of the board of trustees and owns an equity interest in the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“That gift from him, opened up the eyes of many, many others,” Barquinero said. “People with discretionary wealth and corporations making decisions on how to promote their companies, they’re very, very smart people. They're wise with their money. When it comes to a university and, in this case, hockey, there’s some passion required. And that’s what we’re trying to help develop.”

Besides donations, the school will pay for the facility through borrowing, ticket and concession revenue, and future income from renting the venue for outside use.

The arena, which is rising on the site of former General Electric headquarters that the school purchased in 2016 and turned into the West Campus, is nearly a decade in the making. The hockey program played at the Milford Ice Pavilion for much of its life in Division I, but hockey was always viewed as a potential for growth.

After shifting home games to Webster Bank Arena in 2016, school officials began investigating the need for an arena on campus. Barquinero said planning took a two-pronged strategy focused on the player and the fan experience.

Fans will have direct access to the arena from a parking garage, there will be luxury suites and club rooms, a center-hung scoreboard and a pro shop. The arena will be built to appeal to students and outsiders. And, yes, Sacred Heart is hoping to lure people from both the neighboring communities and from Metro New York.

That’s part of the pitch: Notre Dame or Michigan or Boston College can come play at Sacred Heart as an opportunity to draw alumni from New York and Fairfield County. Or maybe those schools will come to Sacred Heart to play games and hold admission events as they appeal to prospective students from Fairfield County.

“We're very popular for colleges and universities,” Barquinero said. “We’re a prime location for alumni of all the schools we bring in. … We have the ability now to talk to schools, because of the quality of this arena. If they want to bring a game down to Metro New York, we’re that team for them.”

Boston College will be the opponent for the first men’s game on Jan. 14, 2023. The hope is the schedule outside of Atlantic Hockey will be bolstered by the lure of the new arena.

And with a capacity of about 4,000, the arena should be capable of absorbing fans of the opponents. School officials studied attendance figures around the country and in the Northeast while also consulting with those who run concerts and events on campus, such as lectures or convocations.

“That just felt like the right number for us,” Barquinero said. “Now, we’ve got work to do to generate a regular fan base. But we’re very bullish on our student body and community.”

Marottolo also had a voice in planning aspects of the arena. He’s been in rinks most of his life, playing at Choate and Northeastern, coaching at Trinity and Yale before landing at Sacred Heart. The son of North Haven knows what’s needed and he’s been making a point to tour buildings over the past few years.

“Especially the new arenas … you ask what they did, what did they learn? What wouldn’t you do again if you had a chance to do it again?” Marottolo said. “We picked a lot of people’s brains.”

Representatives from the school also consulted with the New York Islanders, who operate their American Hockey League affiliate at Webster Bank Arena. They spoke to Stamford-based Strength and conditioning coach Ben Prentiss, who has a long history working with NHL players. The under-the-hood features for players were important, from strength-and-conditioning training space to the type of tub used for an ice bath.

The 122,158-square-foot arena will have a NHL standard sheet of ice. There will be a rapid-shot puck room that features a system automatically passing and collecting pucks. There’s the requisite meeting, film and lounge rooms, and a locker room described as “Olympic-level.”

The amenities play a role in recruiting, especially in the age of the transfer portal. Sacred Heart has seven transfers coming and Marottolo believes the arena — the message sent by the school, the commitment to the program — was a factor.

“It’s opening doors for us to be able to really engage with some high-end guys,” Marottolo said. “We’ve been able to attract high-end guys before … but with this new rink, it’s helped us talk to a larger number of top-end players. They feel this rink is just the beginning for us.

“When this hit, that you’re building a $70 million arena that’s not being shared with anything else, that gets the attention of people. Especially young men that hockey’s their love. This arena is a game-changer for us.”
 

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Listened to the tackle college sports podcast. One of the hosts went to UHA and is pretty locked in, says the decision could be made on this as early as this Friday 5/7, when the board of regents meets. He also says that the earliest the school could compete in D3 post season play is 2025 because they're still on the hook for scholarships through then
 

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So let’s just speculate, and say they stay D1. Would they then fire Woodward on the spot, or at least ask for his resignation?
 

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If the board votes to remain at the D1 level, I don't see how Woodward does not resign. There are a few things that stand out to me:

1. Enrollment as a whole is down significantly during Woodward's tenure which is something I didn't know when the whole D3 idea surfaced. I think this is indicative of Woodward's lack of leadership and vision.
2. Woodward's intercepted text messages where he states he is willing to spin accounting numbers to suit his agenda is alarming. Does this mean his numbers contained in the report are fudged? The independent report funded by alumni says yes. His willingness to mislead in order to get what he wants is not becoming of a university president. He would have been much better served to have started an honest and transparent conversation.
3. There is a sneakiness to Woodward's attempt to move this forward in secrecy with the people he has quietly rallied behind him (faculty and board) while excluding those who may oppose him. The The New London Day called him out on this.
4. Not congratulating John Gallagher or his players on the school's first NCAA tournament appearance reeks of sour grapes and is flat out unacceptable. He is the University president for all including athletes and coaches and their accomplishments should be recognized.

The backlash so far has been pretty strong from alumni, former athletes and the media. Not so much for the idea of dropping to D3, but for the terrible way it has been handled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #527 ·
If the board votes to remain at the D1 level, I don't see how Woodward does not resign. There are a few things that stand out to me:

1. Enrollment as a whole is down significantly during Woodward's tenure which is something I didn't know when the whole D3 idea surfaced. I think this is indicative of Woodward's lack of leadership and vision.
2. Woodward's intercepted text messages where he states he is willing to spin accounting numbers to suit his agenda is alarming. Does this mean his numbers contained in the report are fudged? The independent report funded by alumni says yes. His willingness to mislead in order to get what he wants is not becoming of a university president. He would have been much better served to have started an honest and transparent conversation.
3. There is a sneakiness to Woodward's attempt to move this forward in secrecy with the people he has quietly rallied behind him (faculty and board) while excluding those who may oppose him. The The New London Day called him out on this.
4. Not congratulating John Gallagher or his players on the school's first NCAA tournament appearance reeks of sour grapes and is unacceptable.

The backlash so far has been pretty strong from alumni, former athletes and the media. Not so much for the idea of dropping to D3, but for the terrible way it has been handled.
I also find it appalling after listening to many athletes that not only have they never met Woodward but they don’t even know what he looks like. Harrison and Trachtenberg (Hartford last 2 presidents ) were visible ....smiling and approachable. How is someone who is leading so negligent and naively distant? Rather than embracing and cultivating he has created an atmosphere and culture of distrust.
With all that being said your first point is the most important in that enrollment has steadily decreased during his tenure. We need new motivating leadership with new ideas/solutions and creative thinking that embraces and celebrates its students/faculty and workers.
 

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I also find it appalling after listening to many athletes that not only have they never met Woodward but they don’t even know what he looks like. Harrison and Trachtenberg (Hartford last 2 presidents ) were visible ....smiling and approachable. How is someone who is leading so negligent and naively distant? Rather than embracing and cultivating he has created an atmosphere and culture of distrust.
With all that being said your first point is the most important in that enrollment has steadily decreased during his tenure. We need new motivating leadership with new ideas/solutions and creative thinking that embraces and celebrates its students/faculty and workers.
I was told that he hasn't been on campus once this year and rumor is he's not even in the state.
 

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Especially when having students on campus also necessitates having the low wage employees on campus for food service, maintenance, etc while he's making almost $250k
 

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This, if true, is enough to warrant removal IMO.

I understand the shift to remote work, but if its safe enough to have students on campus, it is safe enough for him to do his job on campus.
Sadly, and broadly speaking the majority of the leaders of the Educational institutions in this country abandoned its post during the pandemic. I certainly wouldn't expect that to be much different at a small, regional private university.
 

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Discussion Starter · #533 ·
This, if true, is enough to warrant removal IMO.

I understand the shift to remote work, but if its safe enough to have students on campus, it is safe enough for him to do his job on campus.
I do not know if this is part of Woodward’s perk but the previous presidents lived in an AMAZING house down the street from the campus. An amazing perk. I had gone to 2 catered parties given at Harrison’s house when a new coach was hired in the past. The financial benefit to this is huge. I wonder if he isn’t usin the house or the that house is not in his contract? Or if he just used this covid year as a vacation somewhere else?
 

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I do not know if this is part of Woodward’s perk but the previous presidents lived in an AMAZING house down the street from the campus. An amazing perk. I had gone to 2 catered parties given at Harrison’s house when a new coach was hired in the past. The financial benefit to this is huge. I wonder if he isn’t usin the house or the that house is not in his contract? Or if he just used this covid year as a vacation somewhere else?
That's an excellent point that I completely forgot about.

If that house is still part of the deal there is absolutely zero excuse for treating this year like Phil Jackson's Knicks tenure.
 

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Especially when having students on campus also necessitates having the low wage employees on campus for food service, maintenance, etc while he's making almost $250k
unfortunately that's how all big businesses are run, the fat cats get to sit at home in their palatial estates while the "essential but lower paid personnel" have to go in.
 
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